Some parents of sixth grade students at a Roane County middle school were upset to learn that a substitute teacher allegedly talked about sex when she should have been teaching social studies.
Officials are investigating just what transpired last week between Kathryn Ann Beilstein and the students during class time and later on the playground at Spencer Middle School.
One parent claims his child used a recording feature on a digital camera to tape Beilstein responding to students' questions about masturbation, condoms and different shades of pubic hair.
Roane Superintendent Steve Goffreda said Beilstein won't be teaching at the school while the investigation is underway and probably would never again substitute for a sixth grade class there.
But he said he doesn't think Beilstein, of Gandeeville, began the sex discussion out of the blue. He said she was just responding to the students' questions.
"This wasn't something that was planned, obviously," Goffreda said. "But it would have been much better if she would have stayed on topic. It would have been better if she would have directed these questions back to the counseling department or school nurses rather than try to field those questions herself."
Goffreda said the incidents occurred when Beilstein was substituting for a social studies teacher on March 12.
That day's topic was supposed to be the AIDS problem in Africa. But the instruction eventually devolved into Beilstein fielding questions about sex.
Beilstein did not return a telephone call from the Daily Mail.
"It's one of those things that could almost happen to anyone in the classroom," Goffreda said. "But the difference between an experienced teacher and a new substitute is the experienced teacher would probably have had that instinct to stop it."
Goffreda said there is some indication that some of the students may have intentionally been goading Beilstein to continue talking about sex. Goffreda said some of the students continued to ask Beilstein questions later on the playground.
"I don't think she realized that she could get set up that way," he said.
The parent with the tape, Kevin Shreve, took it to the Times Record newspaper in Spencer.
Shreve told the newspaper that he was appalled.
The Spencer paper reported that the tape contains the voice of woman alleged to be the teacher responding to a question about the color of pubic hair: "Usually it's dark, but there are some that are red or blond."
The same voice is heard saying that condoms could be bought at rest area bathrooms, adding, "Rubber deteriorates over a period of time, so don't get one until you need one."
J. Kevin Campbell, principal at Spencer Middle School, on Tuesday sent letters to parents of children in the class.
"On behalf of Ms. Beilstein, I apologize for her lapse in judgment," Campbell wrote. "She recognizes her mistake in trying to address these topics in the social studies class herself."
Goffreda said he's not aware of any other substantial complaints against Beilstein.
"I understand the way the parents feel, but we also have to keep this in perspective," Goffreda said.
Beilstein, who is in her mid-50s, once practiced law in Mansfield, Ohio. Her law license is still active, but she apparently switched gears on her career when she was hired on as a Roane substitute in 2006.